Tony-winning B.D. Wong of "M. Butterfly" renown has become the champion of Asian-American actors. Last year, Wong made headlines when he protested the decision by Actors' Equity to let English actor Jonathan Pryce play the Eurasian "Engineer" on Broadway in the musical "Miss Saigon."
But Wong fears people may have the wrong impression of him. "I do want to make sure I don't sound like an angry person because I am not," he explains. "I am actually quite happy. I realize I am very excited about being in a position where I can discuss these issues because they aren't discussed."
Though Wong says the "Miss Saigon" affair was painful, people's eyes were opened about the plight of minority actors in the entertainment industry. "By the way, an Asian-American actor (Francis Ruivivar) has taken over the role of the Engineer and he is great," Wong says. "In my opinion, he never would have been considered for that part if there wasn't a big fuss over it. I am not crediting myself with it, but the entire community for having spoken up about it."
Wong currently is making audiences laugh as Henry, the zany assistant to the wedding coordinator from hell (Martin Short), in "Father of the Bride," Touchstone's remake of the 1950 Vincente Minnelli comedy classic.
"I only wish I was in it more, but that's about it," Wong says. "It's great to be a part of it. You can't not have a good time on that set with those actors (Short, Steve Martin and Diane Keaton)."
Though Wong is a "serious" theater actor, so far Hollywood has only cast him in comedic roles in such films as "The Freshman" and "Mystery Date."
"These are the parts I am getting," Wong says. "I have been warned after 'Father of the Bride,' which is probably the highest-profile movie I have been in, I may get pegged. But I have this strong foundation in another area which allows people to think of me both ways."